Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

Jessica Vosk Sings The Songwriters of Laurel Canyon.

By: Jun. 04, 2023
Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

Jessica Vosk is a good actress.  She’s got to be a good actress, she was an Elphaba, for cryin’ out loud.  And Jessica Vosk deserves to act, when and if she wants to.  However, the acting world may have to live without Jessica Vosk for a time, and the playgoing audiences may have to miss Jessica Vosk for a time because Jessica Vosk is a concert performer right now.  In fact, Jessica Vosk is THE concert performer right now.  That is a fact and it is being proven over and over and over with every concert appearance she makes.  On her first outing at Carnegie Hall, Jessica Vosk sold out the venerated venue.  That’s three thousand six hundred seventy-one seats.  3,671 seats.  Sold out.  For her first-ever concert there.  So what else was Carnegie Hall to do but ask Jessica Vosk back for a second show, one year later, in honor of the Judy Garland Centenary?  Sold out.  Again.  And both shows were smashing resounding successes (read the reviews HERE and HERE).  In the meantime, The Vosk has been playing concert halls around the country (around the world), while also dropping in on some of New York City’s nightclub venues for occasional guest appearances, thank goodness, because the cabaret goers were there for Jessica before Carnegie Hall, and they will always be there for her - she is not likely to abandon them.  And although 92NY is a concert space and not a cabaret room, it is still an intimate space where the audience can feel like they are in Jessica Vosk’s living room.  Of course, even at Carnegie Hall, it felt like we were in Jessica Vosk’s living room - she is just that good.   Jessica Vosk is, in fact, better than good.  Jessica Vosk is better than great.  Jessica Vosk is this generation’s Bette Midler, she is this generation’s Barbra Streisand, she is this generation’s Liza Minnelli.  Future generations of singers and gay men will point at Jessica Vosk and say that she was their earliest inspiration, she is their diva, she is their North Star.  They will say this because she earned it.

Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

At 92NY this weekend Jessica Vosk premiered CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ - Jessica Vosk SINGS THE SONGS OF LAUREL CANYON.  This show in the Lyrics and Lyricists season was postponed from last November when Jessica got (as she puts it) “Co-co” … and, speaking personally, this writer is grateful because last November Broadway World Cabaret reporter Ricky Pope had requested this show but today Ricky Pope is out of town Musical Directing Steel Pier at Surflight Theater, and this aficionado of the music of Lauren Canyon is the lucky winner because this show is one for the record books.  It is one for the record books for a couple of reasons, the first of them being the music of Laurel Canyon.  Hopefully, there are people younger than this sixty-year-old who continue to appreciate the music of this era, who continue to seek out and enjoy Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, The Mamas and the Papas, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Carole King, The Beach Boys, James Taylor, The Eagles, and Stevie Nicks.  The audience at today’s matinee of CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ ranged from slightly younger than I to considerably older than I, and everyone was jammin’ in their seats, and it was especially nice to see the audience members of silver hair and walking sticks dancing in their seats because this was THEIR music.  It was my music.  It was Jessica Vosk’s music.  It was all of our music because we were either there or our parents played it for us or we discovered it after the fact.  The music is essential.

Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

The band is also essential.  Jessica and her Musical Director, Bryan Perri, have assembled some of the most magnificent musical proficients an audience could hope to hear live, starting with Perri at the piano and stretching across the stage from one musician to the next, right down to two stunning backup singers, and a special guest named Kecia Lewis (Vosk has a different guest artist at each show).  Through Mary-Mitchell Campbell’s astoundingly inventive arrangements (Nicks’s “Gypsy” - this writer’s highlight) and dedicated reproductions of original treatments (Ronstad’s “Blue Bayou” - another highlight), every single person on the stage gave the songs, the show, and the audience everything they had, right to the marrow, and it was of the highest quality possible.

And leading the way was Jessica Vosk.

Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

It’s one thing to be a good singer.  It’s one thing to be a great singer.  But what Jessica Vosk did on the stage today went beyond good or great, and, frankly, it’s what she does every time she goes out on a stage.  This isn’t just great singing, it isn’t just great storytelling, it’s something that comes before a singer starts their training and before a storyteller steps in front of an audience.  It’s an instinct, it’s a gift, and it’s what renders it possible for Jessica Vosk to make magic, whether she is talking to the woman in the first row, discussing her own life with the entire room, imparting history to anyone who will listen, or raising her voice in one of the greatest songs ever written, whether rocking out to “Hotel California” or sharing the real-life story behind the harmonies in “Our House.”  Every note sung is unbelievable enough to make a person smile, shake their head, or even cry, and when these songs that are genuine musical fables in Vosk’s hands are woven around Jessica’s rhetoric, an audience cannot help but become mesmerized, mystified, and magically drawn to this Pied Piper of the concert stage.  

Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

A young performer recently asked me what a good show needs, and I told them: human connection.  From the moment a singer steps up onto the stage, they have to be connected - connected to the audience, connected to the people sharing the stage with them, connected to the humanity of the song they are singing.  From start to finish, Jessica Vosk connects.  She connects to the lyrics, to the melody, to the story… she connects to the audience, to the musicians, to the history.  When she isn’t singing, Jessica Vosk connects her audience to her band (it has to be seen to be fully understood) and to each other.  When the band is playing, Jessica Vosk connects to what they are playing, how they are playing it, and the feeling it inspires in the deepest reaches of her being.  When she is standing at the microphone, sitting in her chair, or lying on the stage, Jessica Vosk connects with the dust particles floating in the shaft of light from the pin spot.  It is not possible for it to be any other way, for Jessica Vosk, and her director James Darrah has aided her in the creation of a script and space where she can be all of herself.  This level of commitment, this level of talent, this level of fire is what Jessica brought with her when she came into this world, and it is why she has had one of the fastest rises to fame in recent years.  It is why she is the voice of her generation.  And it is what is going to continue to propel her forward into the future, into legend, and into the hearts of her audiences.

Dear readers, don’t miss this one.  It won’t come again.

California Dreamin’ Jessica Vosk Sings The Songs of Laurel Canyon plays one last time on Monday night June 5th, at 7:30 pm at 92NY.  Get information and reservations HERE.

THIS is the Jessica Vosk website.

Joseph Sinnott's production photos were provided by 92NY

The personnel list for CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ is:

Jessica Vosk:  Concept and script

James Darrah:  Director and co-author

Bryan Perri:  Musical Director

Mary-Mitchell Campbell:  Arranger

Justin Smith on Fiddle

Eric B. Davis on Guitar

Craig Magnano on Guitar

Alexandra Eckhardt on Bass

Damien Bassman on Drums

Abigail Sparro on background vocals

Gabe Violett on background vocals

Laura Rondinells:  Swing

Molly Stilliens:  Swing

Kecia Lewis:  Guest Performer June 4th

Eden Espinosa will be Guest Performer on June 5th

Kylee Loera:  Projection Design

John Kelly:  Lighting Design

Lori Wekselblatt:  Production Stage Manager

Charles Cermel:  Guest Curator

Stephanie Alvarado Prugh:  Producer

Matt Kunkel:  Producer

Review: Jessica Vosk Pure Medical Grade Magic In CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' at 92NY

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